Struggling With What To Tell My Children....advice From Other Non-believers?

For now, it's just my daughter, who is nearly 8. My toddler won't be questioning for many years.

A bit of a back story, my entire family is Catholic with the exception of a few cousins who are like myself and are not religious and do not believe in God. I do not believe in God, although I do celebrate holidays with my family such as Christmas and Easter. Maybe some would say that is hypocritical? I do it basically out of tradition. On holidays I celebrate my family and the love and thanks I have for them. But for me personally, I do not feel the need to have religion in my life. I don't consider myself an Atheist, to be honest, I am not sure I know what all that means. I have never cared to really research the difference between Atheism, Agnostic, etc. I only know a small amount about each. I just consider myself non-religious!

Now that my daughter is getting older, I struggle with some of the questions she asks. My mom, and other family members, talk to her on occasion about God and the biblical stories. But, none of them go to church or are super religious...however, they do believe in everything the bible says.

I really didn't think I would have to worry about this until she was a lot older.....but she's asked me questions about heaven/hell and related. My answers are usually "people believe different things" or say something like "well, grandma believes...." Recently, she asked me if she can start going with her friend on Wednesday nights to a Baptist church kids group type thing. The friend's mom said they do activities and it's basically all fun and games. My daughter is interested in it but I don't like the idea of it. It's not that I don't want my daughter to believe in God. I just think she is too young to rationally form an opinion on religion. I've always said that when my kids were old enough to choose what they believe in, I will support their decision. But what do I do in the meantime? I'm sure not going to force my beliefs on them.

So I guess I'm just looking to see what thoughts/suggestions any other non-religious people have.
TattooedMissez TattooedMissez
26-30, F
7 Responses Apr 5, 2012

I would be delighted to advise and help you in any way I can. I am an atheist and what some call a neo-darwinist.
An atheist does not believe in god. Theism means belief in god so atheism is belief in no god. Agnostics are unsure.

My wife is a spiritualist and obviously we discussed how to handle our differing beliefs and how that would
Affect our children. We decided to basically let them decide for themselves.
We taught them about religion by saying neutrally...some people believe....

I personally taught them about science and the true beautiful reality of the universe...for example except hydrogen every atom in your body was made inside a star by nuclear fusion...we are all literally stardust. I am pleased to say that with the exception of a brief dalliance with evangslism both my kids are proud and well balanced atheists. Both have good jobs good friends and not the slightest trace of immorality or criminality. Please feel free to add me (yes my profile is largely sexual but I am capable and happy to have platonic friends, especially bright and inquisitive atheists and agnostics). I will be delighted to offer support and advice and answer any questions you may have. Beware, I may present you with a reading list that will challenge your understanding of reality lol. X

How can you force something you do not have? I get the impression from what you have said so far that you are more spiritual than a non believer. You know there is something but not what is being sold as a religion to the masses. I get that! Not into what the church itself represents as an organized "Institution". Which is pretty much how I see it. It kinda goes in the right direction but has veered of course several hundred years ago. Kinda missing the "Dead Center Mark". <br />
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So how do you address an issue such as this? Almost have to explain what they are selling in order to make your point. This I would be interested in how you DO end up handling it. I don't know what you will do or how you will handle it? <br />
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I would bring up Universal Law as it is absolute and does fit everyone and everything. It is simple enough to explain right? It does pretty much explain everything because it is everything included.<br />
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Just a thought. <br />
Do with it as you will. Only your choice anyway, no one can do it for you no matter what you tell the child.

Churchs can be ok socially but you run the risk of kids heads being filled full of crap. The risk can be lessened by telling the kid as much of the truth that you know, such as,.. organised religion has killed millions of people for not believing in the same things that they do,.. there may have been an intelligence that created the universe but, there is no evidence outside the bible that Jesus ever existed.... things like that.

My children (13 & 11) attended a church lead primary school. They have had an input from the church throughout their years there. I was brought up Christian (Protestant) and went to church, though mostly for family reasins rather than belief.<br />
I have now come to realise that I am an Athiest.<br />
As others have said, encourage your children to question what is before them. Mine have asked similar questions and the best ones were - 'Do you really think God could create the whole world in 7 days?', 'How does that fit with the dinosaurs?', 'Could everyone that has ever lived fit in Heaven?'<br />
The idea of community and belonging are difficult to overcome, but everyone is different. I now live where I am a minority. We get on with it.

I am believer (I guess) but I don't see anything wrong in what you do.<br />
By my opinion,no matter if you believe or not,your duty is to baptize your child and leave all the heavy conversations until a child is ready to read gospels with certain amount of understanding (let's say 14-15).No matter how hard you try to explain your belief or belief to a 8 years old child - you're not getting there.<br />
So leave it to child's conscience.But don't miss baptism,because if the child becomes religious it will matter him/her very much.

You indicate that you want her to have free choice when she's ready, and she can't have free choice unless she understands the choices out there. And that understanding will be her fortress in a world where she’ll find many agendas. Since it's exceedingly unlikely that she'll get enough information from anyone else to remain free to make a decision that is truly hers, the duty falls on you to inform her.<br />
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When she asks a question that elicits a reply such as, "people believe different things," it would seem to indicate a readiness for more information. In that case -- how about giving as much truth as she seems to want -- continually judging how much she is ready for? Truth as far as you can find it, not beliefs. The truth that there are Catholics who believe thus and so and here are the reasons they give for believing thus and so. Then there are atheists who believe this other way and here are the reasons they give for believing this other way. There are mystics of all religions and of no religion who have no beliefs and no differences among themselves and here is what I’ve found about them. aborigines who are close to nature and here’s what I’ve found about them. And there are protestants and Buddhists and Hindus and Jews and Muslims and here is what I’ve found about what they believe and why.<br />
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Of course you won’t be expected to go to the ends of the earth but, depending on how much choice you want to give her, you might end up learning more than you know at the moment.<br />
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An important part of parenting involves doing just that, in my not-so-humble opinion.

I think it's pretty safe to call yourself Athiest. Agnostics should either **** or get off the pot. Lol. This is tough. I'm sure of what to expect when my son starts noticing tht othe kids aren't like him. I don't know just how I will help him to understand, but I know it's coming. It's hard to know what's right for children. You want to protect them from hogwash, but you don't want to deny them freedom to interact with others. I think interaction with other kids is important for developing certain social skills, but I would still make sure she knows not to believe everything she is told. Maybe try to explain to her that shecan go have fun, and worry about the other stuff when she is older. Good luck. I wish I had better advice hun.

Thank you! It definitely is hard but I like your idea about telling her to worry about it when she's older.

There's always a chance that that statement won't work. I mean we all know how pushy and selfrichious christians can be. But if you'd like to go into detail just tell her the truth: alot of people worship a man that there is no tangable proof existed. I think it's totally ok to give her your opinion, even at a young age. She will follow suit with mommy till she's old enough to think for herself on the subject. Alot of people think I'm nutts for raising my son into Witchcraft, as is normal for our household. I say if I was christian we'd be going to church, what's the dif? But we will teach him that there are many religions, and if chooses a different one or none at all we are completely ok with that. It's ok to share what is "normal home life" but that other may be different.